Analysis released today by Campaign for Consumer Rights shows that insurers have spent more than $17 million dollars on candidates and initiatives to quietly influence the outcome of California’s June 2010 election.
The consumer group noted that voters are unlikely to know from the populist-sounding names of the insurance company-funded coalitions and front-groups that insurers are spending millions to win their agenda. The insurance groups include “Put California Back to Work” and “Californians Allied for Patient Protection,” and “Californians for Fair Automobile Insurance Rates.”
In addition to insurance money being spent on Prop 17, insurers have spent more than $600,000 in independent expenditures to influence the State Assembly race in Los Angeles’ South Bay and more than $1.4 million in a State Senate race in San Diego.
Mercury Insurance, the biggest insurance industry donor in the election, has spent $14.9 million trying to pass Prop 17, a ballot measure that would allow insurers to take their persistency discount with them when shopping for insurance coverage, the consumer group said.
Los Angeles and San Diego voters are the primary targets of the industry’s stealth independent expenditure efforts to win legislative races. Insurer-backed groups have spent more than $600,000 against one Assembly candidate in Los Angeles’ South Bay — Betsy Butler in Assembly District 53 — and more than $1.47 million against one San Diego State Senate candidate — Mary Salas in Senate District 40 — and for her opponent Juan Vargas.
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is running in the republican primary for governor, although he has spent $24 million in personal funds on his election campaign against former eBay executive Meg Whitman.
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